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VOL. 127 | NO. 227 | Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jeremy Park

Exchanging Violence for Hope

By Jeremy Park

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Last week we shared four volunteer opportunities with the McKellar Lake Cleanup, Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park, Memphis Athletic Ministries and their after-school program, and the Memphis Crisis Center. This week let us discuss an organization that is focused on breaking the cycle of child abuse and neglect by replacing abusive and violent behavior with effective parenting skills: The Exchange Club Family Center.

The Exchange Club Family Center was opened in 1984 through the efforts of six local Exchange Clubs to help prevent child abuse. It is one of 76 Exchange Club Centers across the nation and with the help of 35 experienced staff members and 100 community volunteers, the agency served over 5,000 children and adults here locally last year. They offer 23 programs that are designed to help heal families through counseling, education, awareness and support services.

The Family Center’s programs and services are centered on a three-sided approach to ending child abuse: family violence, parenting education and anger management. Family violence programs address the issues of family violence and how they affect both children and adults, helping families learn how to identify and deal with it, along with offering clients a protected venue for child visitations. Since the majority of their adult clients grew up in violent homes and many were abused themselves, they unknowingly pass these behaviors on to their children. The goal is to help these adults recognize and redefine their behaviors.

Parenting education programs address the conflicts that arise from stressful parenting situations and divorce. For example, TRANSparenting is a four-hour seminar that provides parents vital information on the effects of divorce on children, while Rollercoasters is designed for the children to provide them with an outlet for the range of emotions and issues that often occur during and following a divorce. Anger management programs address the issue of anger and explore alternative problem-solving skills, the causes of anger, and reactions to anger, as well as the aftereffects.

Serving over 5,000 children and adults with a team of 35 staff is only possible through the amazing efforts of volunteers. The Family Center has become highly recognized for its partnership with the AmeriCorps National Community Service Program and their internships, which train graduate and undergraduate students from numerous area colleges and universities.

Playing our part in the effort is easy, as well. The Family Center is always in need of children’s toys, books, diapers, snacks and favors to celebrate progress of children and teens. Consider adopting a family for holiday gift giving, attending and volunteering with special events, or joining the Friends of the Family Center or a local Exchange Club, which both provide support.

Learn more about the Exchange Club Family Center and ways you can get involved by visiting www.exhangeclub.net or contacting Karen Ratcliff at karen.ratcliff@exchangeclub.net.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).

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